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Perpetual Musket
Elijah Minnelli
FatCat Records
Catalogue Number
Release Date
June 7, 2024
  • Vinyl 1×LP

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    Estimated release date: June 7, 2024

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FatCat Records is delighted to have acquired the exclusive rights to the music from the Breadminster County Council’s ‘Partnership of the Perpetual Musket’ songbook. This year’s performance features songs performed by Little Roy, Shumba Youth, Earl Sixteen and Joe Yorke with musical production, direction and conceptual oversight from Elijah Minnelli – ‘the ongoing artist-in-residence and de facto Night Czar of Breadminster’.

Born of an equal love of outsider folk, and the interwoven musical lineages of both South America and the West Indies, Minnelli stands out by balancing influence with a unique irreverence. ‘Perpetual Musket’ fuses dub reggae with traditional folk, reimagining classic standards with a cast of renowned reggae vocalists to breathe new life into traditional and folk songs. Each track is paired with a live dub version that shines a light on the instrumental adaptations of these traditional melodies.

Veteran Jamaican singer-songwriter Little Roy lends his finely honed tone to ‘Vine & Fig Tree’, an explicitly anti-war song originating from the Old Testament, infusing it with warmth and yearning.

Contemporary dancehall titan Shumba Youth enlivens the old traditional ballad ‘A’ Soulin’’, a song about a Souls’ Day winter ritual where the poor would knock on the doors of farm owners and the rich in a tradition that is believed to have influenced both carolling and trick or treating. Shumba's rhythmic dexterity refreshes the song with a unique energy.

Peggy Seeger's ‘Lifeboat Mona’ is the next rendition, telling the story of a lifeboat disaster in 1959, where an entire lifeboat crew perished while seeking to save an adrift boat on St. Andrews Bay. Roots reggae heavyweight Earl Sixteen imparts this folk ballad with great emotion and fine storytelling ability. The work of lifeboat crews is ever pertinent, as the vilification of ‘small boat’ seeks to dehumanise the most vulnerable in society. We've even seen attempts to vilify those who are simply doing their duty to save humans in need.

The final reinterpretation comes from Bristol's Joe Yorke, who sings ‘The Wind & The Rain’. His sleek, haunting falsetto matches perfectly with this tale of weather and weariness from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Joe has carved quite a path for himself in recent years, injecting a new voice into the world of contemporary reggae.

Elijah Minnelli’s rendition of ‘Lifeboat Mona’ is truly excellent. It is a moving mixture of percussion, harmony and vocals that knows how to tell a story. Vocalist Earl Sixteen does it JUST RIGHT. All the elements of the song, as I wrote it back in December 1959, are still there. Thanks to all for doing it so well." – Peggy Seeger

Further Reading on The Partnership of the Perpetual Musket and the Avian Purge of 1915.

Through the aeons, conflict has plagued the world. But in the early 20th Century an outspoken fraternity burrowed in the heart of Breadminster’s bohemian undergrowth looked to stand up against the very notion of war. Creeping forth with a state of warlessness in their hearts, the Partnership of the Perpetual Musket spread their message with song, ceremony, and via the creation of a figurehead whose message was central to their aims. This icon was a living effigy, a symbol of everything that they stood for and against; a warrior whose armour was made not of steel, but of bread. Through this manifestation the Partnership sought to present the notion that a fed society is better than a dead society. Meeting in ale houses and performing in public squares, their displays of pacifism were however met with broad indifference amongst the general population.

The Partnership, undeterred, paid no mind to public opinion, and moved forward with ever-more radical acts of domestic protest. Most notable was the “Avian Purge” of 1915, where ducks were set upon their bread-laden figure, signifying the destruction caused by the horrors of aerial bombing. Although the conceptual nature of the act was lost on the townsfolk, the spectacle of ducks pecking at the defenceless breadman remains ever-popular to this day.

Songs also play a central part in this yearly tradition, and as time has gone on, so has the great sphere of influence that feeds it. The traditional folk songs of yesteryear have been reinvented continuously by guest vocalists who join the ceremony to add their musical influence. It is this spirit of combining songs of old with a diverse range of modern artists which keeps the ceremony alive and flourishing; a peck of sugar to the yeast of tradition, if you will.

Words by: Christopher Tinpanally Breadminster Pacifist Archive

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